The season is winding down which is a good thing; too much more racing and I think my legs will stage a mutiny. But save it to say, thus far they have managed to hang in there so I can have a little fun. Case in point – The 2011 Cherry Roubaix.
This race has just about everything a rider could want with the exception of a TT. Friday features street sprints in downtown Traverse City. Saturday is a 6 turn crit with a 1 block sector of bricks. Sunday is a hellacious road race (Michigan RR State Championships to be precise) that has some of the toughest hills I’ve dared to ride outside of California. So with all this action going on, there’s no way that I won’t make the trip; especially considering that it’s in the town where my parents moved to.
Pretty simple concept: get on a start ramp, get your count down, sprint hard for 150M and beat your competitors. Venue is cool and Michigan former Pro Frankie Andreu was there as guest announcer. Top prize was also pretty cool; a flat screen TV donated by the good folks over at Max’s Service. There were four categories competing – men, women, juniors and fixed gear. Last year I ran two categories but rule changes this year limited riders to only one. Seeing as I view myself as a pretty decent sprinter, I took my chances where I fathomed I had better odds and less competitors. So off to the Women’s category I went! Okay, so I didn’t ride with the women but instead chose the fixed gear route so I could rock my black and gold Obey.
So fixed gear had a total of 6 riders competing. We would do two qualifying rounds and then our scores would determine who would advance. From there it was sudden death eliminations in the Semi’s and Finals. Go hard or go home as they say! My first run I managed 2nd but quickly determined that my gearing (48/17) while it allowed me to spin up quickly may be a little too light. So during the trip back through the run off I asked the rider who got 1st (Brian Crosby – Black Line) what he was running (47/15). Based on this I switched to a 48/15 which would put me over, but close to his gearing.
Round two saw me matched with two new riders. I managed to get a good start out of the ramp and I was able to spin up pretty quick. For whatever reason, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if they were gaining. Frankie saw this and all I head was “You better stop looking over your shoulder, you haven’t won yet!” Apparently MJ jumped into my body while I was riding because [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredrogers/6053512090/in/photostream] this [/url] was my response.
Based on the two previous runs I was moved into the Semis. Unfortunately I drew Brian Crosby; he got a bike length on me pretty quick and that was the end of that. But hey, the guy is a Cat 1 on the track so I can’t necessarily be too upset. Maybe next year I’ll get the TV?
So the good thing about this race is that it was only 35 minutes. The bad thing about this race is that it was only 35 minutes. What that means is that while it was shorter than many of my races as a Cat 4, the Cat 3’s don’t “surge” as much but instead tend to keep a fast and constant pace. Thus, this was more like a 35 minute time trial with some bricks and turns just to keep it interesting.
As this race has become more popular, more Chicago riders have made the trip to participate. So in my race I had the luxury of having John and Evan up from Rhythm. I also had my man Dave Racine from Hampshire Cycling Club (WI) up. With 4 unknown riders who all knew of each other, it was going to be good times!
Typically when you are at the start of the race, you’re sitting around while the officials go through all of the instructions. This time we were all sitting around and the instructions were loosely coming from the stage. So when they turned it over to the official she just blew the whistle! “Umm, are we supposed to go?” Needless to say none of us were prepared so we quickly clipped in and took off!
I got a good start and my line into the first turn set me up pretty close to the front. I was able to stay there pretty easily until a break of two went off. The peloton didn’t respond immediately so the gap got up to about 15 seconds before they decided to reel it in. I was able to see Dave at the front doing some work who was shortly followed up by John. Me? Trying to hang on to an ever increasing train of riders in front of me!
At about 12 minutes in the break was caught and true to textbook, Evan immediately launched a counter attack. During his assault they rang us for a $50 prime which he handily won. I somehow managed to get back up to the front (by taking an aggressive outside line through the turn exiting the bricks) where I was able to see John sitting 2nd/3rd wheel blocking. Evan was caught around 27 minutes in at which time John countered. But with less than 10 minutes from the end, it was pretty hard for him to stay off as the pack was having none of it.
As we came through Start/Finish with two laps to go I see a rider go streaking off on the left and I quickly jump to get his wheel. We managed to get a slight gap on the field but it was going to be hard to make this stick. As the lead rider slowed down I was forced to make a decision: do I 1) slow down and get absorbed with just a little over one to go 2) try and ride solo being pretty confident that I can’t make it stick all the way to the finish or 3) take a flyer to force a train to chase me and then try to hop it and attack out of it towards the finish? My decision was option 3 and this is how it played out: got boxed in when the train slowed and could only sprint for 9th when it opened up. Next time I’m picking option 2 – it may have resulted in the same placing, but I’ll never know until I try.
Yeah right – who are we kidding! Maybe next year when I shed another 20 pounds and get a mini motor installed in my bike. Now it’s time a few weeks at the track and then the last omnimum of my season – Gateway Cup!